How Knitting Relieves Stress

Let’s be honest; this after this year we could all use some stress relief. There are many ways to blow off steam but knitting is especially effective in reducing stress. Not only does knitting give the knitter something to focus on to get out of their head, it actually reduces the level of the stress hormone cortisol. A reduction in stress hormone is just as good for your mental health as it sounds but the benefits don’t end there. Knitting also triggers the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, chemicals which result in satisfaction and happiness. Serotonin and dopamine are often called natural antidepressants for their importance in brain chemistry. Increased mood and self-esteem have been reported by many knitters. The two-pronged effect of busy hands and a busy mind helps to banish anxiety and take attention from pain and stress. Research shows that the brain reacts to knitting very similarly to yoga and meditation, boosting focus and lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Meditation, yoga and knitting all cause the same type of brainwave pattern, proving their deep similarity in effect on the mind and body.

Color and texture can impact stress as well, with colors like blue and green causing a relaxing effect and reds and yellows an energizing one. Teal embodies serenity and renewal and is an ideal color for creative spaces. Surround your craft space with colors and images that make you feel at ease. Consider keeping a house plant at your workspace, houseplants have been found to increase people’s creativity and reduce stress just by existing in a space! Some find that a highly decorated workspace inspires them while others prefer a simple space to aid in focus. Experiment with what works for you to create your perfect craft space. Lighting a candle and brewing some tea will activate the senses with scents to create a relaxing atmosphere. Scents like chamomile and lavender are especially relaxing for many people. Always keep a close eye on an open flame when you are working with yarn! Finally, consider creating a knitting playlist with your favorite music to knit to. Instrumental music is a favorite for mindful knitting because it lacks distracting lyrics. You may even find yourself knitting to the beat.

Once you have the perfect workstation, knitting can lead to mindfulness and a mental state called “Flow”. The flow state is commonly called being “In the Zone” and is the result of practice and attention. People who experience the flow state describe it as energizing and fulfilling, making them feel competent and productive. Flow and mindfulness are quite similar, and both are stress relieving. The repetitive rhythmic action of knitting stimulates multiple areas of the brain allowing the knitter to use their mind while their hands are busy. Many people choose to use that brain power to knit with others and socialize which boosts mood and helps build community. Having a good community to interact with reduces anxiety and aids in forming meaningful friendships.  If the knitter chooses instead to turn the mind inward to practice mindfulness there are many benefits. This kind of mindful knitting is considered the most relaxing and can help people organize and process thoughts as well as reduce stress. 

If knitting is still difficult for you and doesn’t feel relaxing simply know that the more you practice the more easily your stitches will flow. The road to mindful knitting begins with a single step and every step on the path brings you closer to the mental and physical benefits of mindfulness. Like yoga and meditation, no one is an expert overnight. Practicing for a short time each day will build your skills and before you know it you will be able to “Zen out” while you knit. Experienced knitters and beginners alike can choose patterns based on difficulty to control how relaxing a project will be. Start with a simple pattern in one to two colors and large swatches of one type of stitch. These will be the most consistent and relaxing. A higher level of challenge can be frustrating in the short term but results in immense satisfaction when the difficult project pays off.

Need some inspiration? Here are three free patterns to try knitting mindfully:

Knitting & Crocheting with Yarn Scraps: Tips & Pattern Inspiration

Even in just a few short years, the average knitter or crocheter can accrue a surprising amount of yarn scraps. Those leftover bits of yarn from past projects never seem to be big enough to make a project all on their own, but when you combine them with other oddballs, something magical can happen! On this post, we'll share 3 time-saving tips for knitting and crocheting with leftover bits of yarn along with some great free patterns to knit and crochet with yarn scraps! 

Tip #1: Keep a kitchen scale handy.

A kitchen scale can be an invaluable tool for using up every little bit of yarn! Start by measuring the weight of your yarn(s) in grams before you begin knitting or crocheting - then, weight the yarn as you work to see how many grams are needed to complete a pattern repeat, row, or other motif. You can use this information to predict when to change yarn colors, as well as determine whether or not you have enough yarn to finish the section you're about to work on (or are currently working on). While going by yarn weight is not 100% accurate, it allows you to make an educated guess, especially when you don't know the exact yardage of the yarn you're working with.

Tip #2: Sort yarns by weight. 

Chances are, you've lost the labels for most of your leftover bits of yarn. Even if you remember which yarn is which, it's still a good idea to measure the weight of each yarn you plan to use to make sure it will work in your pattern. Here's an easy way to measure your yarn using our SmartStix needles (you can also use a ruler or a special tool called a Wraps Per Inch (WPI) tool): gently wrap you yarn around the needle until an entire 1" section is covered, as shown below. 

Then, count the number of times you wrapped your yarn around the needle. This number is the Wraps Per Inch for your yarn, and you can use it to determine the weight of the yarn by matching the number to the corresponding weight on this chart.

Tip #3: Weave in yarn ends as you go.

The one downside to making a project with lots and lots of yarn bits is all those ends you have to weave in later - luckily, there are some ways to do this as you work! We recommend experimenting to see which technique works best for your project, but once you find something you like, it can be a real time saver! 

If you need to join the same color (or similar color) of yarn, try using the split splice or Russian join method. This video tutorial from Very Pink Knits shows how to weave in ends on the back of your work as you knit, and is a great choice for striped projects. Crocheters can use this clever technique for working in yarn ends as you go.

Scrappy Knitting Pattern Inspiration

Do you have a lot of yarn scraps and don't mind a long-term project that could take months or even years to complete? Check out these free patterns for eye-catching blankets: the Stained Glass Blanket, which is a series of video tutorials from Ladybug Laboratory or the Sediment Scraps Blanket by The Knitty Professors. If you prefer a smaller project, there are still plenty of great options for using up leftover bits of yarn, such as the Mash It Up hat by Babs Ausherman or the Hygge Hat (Ravelry) by Petra Black; Linus by Annett Cordes or Shockwaves by Beata Jezek; Blender Socks by Heather Sebastian or Scrap Bag (Ravelry) by Frankie Brown. 

Scrappy Crochet Pattern Inspiration

We know that a lot of crocheters enjoy making granny square blankets with their leftover scraps, but when you're ready for something a little bit different, check out the Scrappy Corner to Corner Blanket by Cintia Gonzalez, Neat Ripple by Lucy of Attic 24 or A Spicier Life Blanket (Ravelry) by Sandra Paul, all of which are available for free. For smaller stash-busting projects, try these free patterns: Magic Monday by Brenda Grobler, the Nobody's Perfect Shawl by Potter & Bloom, the Scrappy Granny Shawl by Regina Weiss, the Scrap-busters Hat by Jenna Wingate or the Scrap Yarn Basket by Cintia Gonzalez.

We hope you feel inspired to use up your scrap yarns this fall - make sure to share what's on your Knitter's Pride needles and hooks by using #knitterspride in your posts!

Yarn Substitution Tips

Have you ever wondered what happens when you use a different yarn than the pattern calls for? Depending on the type of yarn you are using, your project could be larger, smaller, drapier, denser, or (if you're lucky!) the same as the sample using the specified yarn. Today, we'll talk about the effects of gauge, fiber content, and color usage when substituting yarn in any pattern.

Gauge Considerations

When substituting yarn in any pattern, it is critical to knit a gauge swatch before you do anything else! Even if a yarn is labeled as the same weight as the called-for yarn, it may behave differently when you knit with it. Make sure that your swatch is large enough to give you a sense of the fabric you'll be creating, and you'll also want to block it in the same manner you plan to do with the finished piece, whether it's hand washing in your favorite wool wash, spray blocking, or steaming.

When measuring your gauge, count the stitches and rows in a 4-inch area in at least 3 different spots on your swatch, then take an average of those numbers to calculate your actual gauge in 4 inches. This will give you a more accurate measurement overall, since it's likely that every single stitch isn't uniform (after all, that's what gives a hand knit item character!). Our Elephant Needle Gauge has a handy 4-inch window to make counting those stitches easier!

If your gauge is too small, try going up a needle size. If your gauge is too large, try a smaller needle size to get the required number of stitches and rows. If you are still having trouble getting the required number of stitches or rows, you may need to pick one of your gauge swatches and do a little bit of math to figure out how the difference in gauge will affect your finished piece.

Fiber Content

If you plan on substituting one yarn blend for another of the same yarn weight, your gauge swatch will also come into play here. How a specific fiber or blend of fibers behaves in a knitted piece is a very vast discussion, so we'll use a few visual examples here. Both of these projects used an eyelet stitch design and was knitted with fingering weight yarn; however, each yarn has a different blend of fibers, which produces a different level of drape and stitch definition:

Sample #1: Rochambeau Cowlette by Carina Spencer, knit in Forbidden Fiber Co. Babel Sock, a blend of 70% wool, 20% yak and 10% nylon. 

Original Sample: knit in The Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering, a blend of 75% merino wool, 20% cashmere and 5% nylon.

Sample #3: Starshower by Hilary Smith Calais, knit in Apple Tree Knits Plush Merino Gradient, a 100% merino fingering weight yarn.

Original Sample: knit in Anzula Nebula, a blend of 84% merino and 16% stellina.

Even when using the same stitch pattern or design, you can create a different look just by changing up the yarn! 

Color Usage

Some knitters are nervous about using different colors than what's used in the sample, especially for patterns requiring multiple colors of yarn. Having a basic grasp of color theory can help you make substitutions with confidence, so we’ll give you a quick rundown here: 

Shown here is the color wheel, which is made up of three main colors: red, blue, and yellow, known as primary colors. In traditional color theory, primary colors are the 3 pigment colors that can not be mixed or formed by any combination of other colors. All other colors are derived from these 3 hues.

Secondary colors are created by combining the primary colors. For example, Red+yellow=orange, yellow+blue=green, and blue+red=purple.

Tertiary colors are formed by mixing a primary and a secondary color (for instance, yellow-orange or red-purple). 

Here are 4 simple ways you can use the color wheel to create pleasing color combinations: 

  1. Analogous colors are any three colors which are side by side on the color wheel, such as blue-green, green, and yellow-green. 

  2. Complementary colors are any two colors which are directly opposite each other, such as red and green, or yellow-green and red-purple. Typically, one of these colors is used more than the other two to create a color dominance.

  3. Triadic color schemes use colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel - for example, orange-red, yellow-green, and blue-purple. When using a triadic color scheme it’s important to balance the colors thoughtfully.

  4. The split-complementary color scheme is a variation on the complementary color scheme. In addition to the base colors, it uses two colors adjacent to its component. A sample split-complementary combination would be red, yellow-green, and blue-green (instead of red and green). 

For patterns requiring sharp contrast (for example, in stranded colorwork or mosaic knitting), here’s a quick trick for testing your chosen palette to see if they have enough contrast between them: take a photo of all the yarns together…

And then switch the photo to monochrome: 

If you can see distinct differences between each skein with the color components removed, you know that you’ve created a palette with enough contrast to look great in the finished project. 

We hope this post inspires you to "think outside the box" and perhaps even color outside of the lines with your next knit or crochet project. 

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Guest Post: Faster Knitting with knitCompanion

This guest post was written by Sally Holt, creator of the knitCompanion app which is available for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. A knitter herself, Sally created knitCompanion to include many features to make knitting (and crocheting!) from PDF patterns easier and more efficient using the tag line Knit more, frog less. We love the idea of making the most of your crafting time by using this technology, and you can download knitCompanion for free from the app store on your device!

From Idea to App

Back in the early 2000s I was working in the high-tech industry and was also starting to knit. I carried my knitting with me on ever-increasing business trips. When those trips became long-haul international flights, things between my knitting and I got very serious. When I was first beginning my knitting journey, even simple things were tricky, I needed a pattern and instructions close at hand for almost everything. With practice, the basics got easier and I could do them without a pattern. The only problem? I like a challenge. As I mastered each new thing, I wanted to tackle the next hurdle. The first time I did a yo (on purpose) combined with k2tog/ssk and created lace I was PUMPED! 

As my knitting progressed, I discovered some projects did not travel well. The main reason was how difficult it was to keep track in the more complex instructions. I tried all sorts of things, but in the end, I had to travel with simple projects and leave the more complex ones at home. 

There were no tablets back then, just the original e-book readers. At Sock Summit 2009, I saw people experimenting with using their e-book reader for patterns. The basic approach was to place a sticky note on the screen to mark your row. I thought that was interesting, and it got my mind to thinking about the possibilities of creating a more mobile tracking system. Right away I knew it would need to support any pattern since I was always picking up new patterns on Ravelry. I played around with some generic pdf readers, but they were clumsy and didn’t provide the types of tools I needed. I really wanted smooth and streamlined control of markers, counters that I didn’t have to share between projects, and the ability to work from and keep track across several pages of information at once.

In 2010 Apple released the very first iPad. It included a fairly sophisticated system for creating apps and opened up a LOT of possibilities. The timing was perfect and lots of things clicked together in my brain. By 2011 knitCompanion was in development and the first version was released in 2012. Since that first release the app has evolved mightily. 

What’s Slowing You Down?

If you’ve ever wished you could knit more and frog less, then you have probably experiences at least 1 of these problems that can slow down your knitting: 

Tiny Charts. Especially if you’re a fan of complex lace patterns, sooner or later, you’re going to encounter a Very Large Chart that has been squeezed onto a single page of your pattern (and don’t get us started about patterns that are split across multiple pages!). In the days of paper patterns, this necessitated a trip to the local copy shop to enlarge the charts as much as possible - but of course, you are limited by the size of the paper available, as well as your own skills at operating the copy machine itself. 

Zooming in on any part of a pattern or chart is so much simpler on your tablet or smartphone! Which brings us to the next point….

Getting lost in the pattern. Over the years, most of us have probably tried sticky notes, highlighter tape, or good old-fashioned hash marks to keep track of where we are in a pattern. The only problem with these methods is that sticky notes and highlighter tape can be jostled out of position, and if your paper pattern is misplaced or damaged before you’re done knitting, are in big trouble! Having to decipher or re-create your notes can be frustrating, not to mention, lead to mistakes that necessitate frogging later on.

The free version of the knitCompanion app has 3 handy markers which stay in place as you zoom and scroll on any pattern: 

  1. Sliding row marker (default yellow - but you can change the color and opacity) which can be used to highlight a single row of pattern instructions or chart row that you are working from.

  2. Sliding stitch marker (default blue - but can also be changed) which is handy for keeping place as you knit across a row. 

  3. You are here marker: this can be used to mark a specific spot on any page and can be placed by holding your finger in the spot you’d like it to appear.

The above 3 markers are unique to each page of the pattern, which means that you can flip between pages without losing your spot on any of them! 

Mental notes are easy to ‘lose.’ Let’s face it, we always think we’ll remember that we added an extra repeat here or used a certain technique there….but when the time comes to revisit that part of the pattern, chances are those important bits of information have been forgotten! Getting in the habit of making notes on the modifications and techniques you ended up using which are not written out in the pattern can make your life WAY easier down the road. 

Page flipping frustrations. Have you ever tried working from a chart in a pattern, only to discover that the key was on a totally different page? Not only can it be annoying to flip back and forth every time you need a reminder of what a specific symbol in your chart means, it can also slow you down as you work. This paid feature allows you to keep the key handy as you work from any page. 

Need to reference a tutorial video? On iOS, you can embed a video in the pattern you’re working from, allowing you to re-watch the tutorial whenever you need it without navigating to another app! 

The bottom line: find whatever works for you so that you can enjoy knitting & crocheting more and frogging less! 

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Free Baby Blanket Knitting Pattern & Charity Craft-Along

Cooler weather will be here before we know it, and now is the perfect time to think about warm, snuggly blankets for those in need. This month, we have a new free knitting pattern designed by Sophia Minakais and some fabulous prizes for our latest Charity Craft-Along. Grab your needles and hooks to join us in making baby blankets to donate this fall!

About Our Featured Designer

Sophia is a senior designer for Knitting The Natural Way, where she shares her passion for unique, fun and practical natural designs. All of Sophia’s patterns, from baby knits to specially formulated designs for pain relief, are available at

Free Knitting Pattern: Warm Hands Baby Blanket

Break out your yummiest yarn to knit a soft, warm baby blanket to donate to the children of the Warm Hands Network charity, or to cuddle your own baby, with this easy-to-follow pattern.

This pattern was designed to support the children of the Warm Hands Network, a Canadian based charity providing clothing to families in the Canadian North. When knitting baby blankets to be donated to the WHN, please be sure to follow their contribution guidelines, to ensure that your gift will be put to good use. Their guidelines ask that all baby blankets be made using wool or other animal fibers, or acrylic. Baby blankets should be at least 35” x 35” and should always be labeled with washing instructions.

You can mail your Warm Hands Network donations to this address: 
Warm Hands Network
240 First Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 2G6

If you have questions about your donation, please contact

Please note, you will be subscribed to the Knitter's Pride newsletter; if you already get our emails, simply enter your address to confirm and download the pattern.

How to Participate

  • Knit the Warm Hands Baby Blanket or Crochet any baby blanket meeting the criteria above during the course of this KCAL, which takes place Friday, August 7 through Wednesday, September 30, 2020. 
  • Email your finished photos to helloknitterspride [at] gmail [dot] com to be entered in our prize drawing by Midnight CST on September 30, 2020. Please include your city/state (or city/country) and how you would like to be identified if you win (i.e. first name only, first name middle initial, etc.). 
  • Connect: For this KCAL, we are testing out a free bulletin board system with the hope that all crafters can safely participate and connect with each other. Click here to join the conversation (it's free!) and please let us know what you think! You can also share your projects on Facebook or Instagram using the #knitterspride and #KPCharityKCAL hashtags, or in our Ravelry group
  • Donate your finished project to someone in need! In addition to the Warm Hands Network, you can check with local organizations such as hospitals, shelters or hospices, or you can send your donations to Wool Aid, where they will be given to those who need them most. 

Colorwork Charity Craft-Along: Prizes

We have lots of great prizes up for grabs!
Grand Prize Drawing:
1 lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive their choice of a Deluxe SmartStix Interchangeable Set or a Zing Crochet Set. To be eligible, email your finished photo to helloknitterspride [at] gmail [dot] com by Midnight CST on September 30, 2020. Make sure to include your city/state (or city/country) and how you would like to be identified if you win (i.e. first name only, first name middle initial, etc.). 

Additional Prizes: 
We will choose winners at random to receive Rainbow Knit Blockers, Rainbow Row Counter Rings, Knitting Charms and Zooni Stitch Markers. These prizes will be drawn not only from finished photos submitted via email, but also to those participating on our Charity message boardFacebook or Instagram using the #knitterspride and #KPCharityKCAL hashtags, or in our Ravelry group

We will notify all winners via email or direct message after September 30, 2020. 

We can't wait to see what you make!

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Knit & Crochet Accessories for Face Coverings

Face masks are here to stay for the foreseeable future, and we've seen many crafters answer the call to make their own cloth face coverings - even some folks who have never sewed before! Vickie Howell has a fabulous round-up of free sewing patterns and tutorial, which also includes some no-sew options. Click here to check it out!

Even if you don't sew, you can still put a crafty spin on your face coverings. Many crafters are using up leftover bits of yarn to make face mask adapters to keep masks secure and reduce irritation by keeping elastic away from the skin behind the ears. Click the links below to check out these FREE knit & crochet patterns to try (Ravelry links where noted)!

Knitting Patterns for Face Mask Adapters

Crochet Patterns for Face Mask Adapters

Face Mask Neck Cords

Here's another problem-solving idea from Vickie Howell: a crocheted face mask neck cord! In this free tutorial, Vickie shows how to crochet a Romanian cord which can be used to keep your face mask easily accessible around your neck for whenever you need it. So clever! 

Knitters could make a similar cord by knitting an I-cord and then following the finishing steps shared by Vickie in the previous link above. Check out the tutorial video below for the steps on making an I-Cord if you need a refresher on this technique!

Don't see your favorite pattern here? Share it with us below in the comments. We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe this summer!

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Your Guide to Yarn & Fiber Swaps

Have you ever tried a yarn swap? A yarn swap can be as simple as exchanging skeins of yarn (or other related supplies) from your stash with someone else, whether it’s in person or virtually - your craft group, yarn shop, or virtual community may host such swaps from time to time. They can be a great way to find new homes for items you aren’t using, and exchange them for something you’re excited to knit or crochet with!

But there’s another kind of swap that’s a little more involved (and a lot more like gift giving!): this is where a group of crafters send and receive curated packages of goodies to one another, often including more than just yarn or knitting accessories. Many of these swaps involve an element of surprise where swappers do not know who they have (or who has them) and partners do not communicate with each other until after the swap package is delivered. 

Some swaps are themed (i.e. book lovers, chocolate lovers, or people who enjoy a specific movie, TV show, etc.), while others are focused on a specific type of yarn, technique, or crafts. The rules of participation vary from swap to swap, so make sure that you read and understand them before signing up for any swap! 

Where To Find Them

One of the best-known swaps you’ve probably already heard of is called Fibre Share, which has its own dedicated website and requires a small sign up fee for participants. It’s open to crafters of all skill levels and preferences throughout the globe, and swaps open a few times each year (currently they are closed). 

Facebook groups are another good place to search. If you are just looking to destash or trade skeins of yarn, the Yarn Swap Sell Trade Community group has over 4,000 followers. You can search out other knitting-related Facebook groups to join to find other crafters with similar taste with whom you can plan a swap; try looking up a favorite yarn, designer, knitting podcast or area of interest (i.e. sock yarn, lace knitting, amigurumi, etc.) to see what groups are active! 
There are many groups on Ravelry which are dedicated to swapping (please note that as of writing this blog post, any links to Ravelry will display the page in the new design, even if you have switched your profile back to the classic version of Ravelry; it is our hope that they will resolve the accessibility issues which have emerged from the update so that everyone can enjoy content on the site once more). Here some of the most active swap groups:  

Although there are not currently any craft-related swaps listed, is another potential place to search for a swap to join, or start your own for others to participate in! 

Lastly, if you are a part of a local knitting group or guild, why not suggest a socially distant swap for local members? Not only will you save on shipping, it’s a great way to stay connected with your knitting friends even if you can’t spend time with them in person.

Building the Perfect Swap Package

Building a super-special package of goodies for your swap partner is every bit as fun as receiving the one that someone else made for you! Most swaps will give you some guidance about the kinds of yarns, patterns, and other items your partner enjoys (as well as any allergies they may have), so make sure to keep those preferences in mind as you shop and collect items. They might also have a minimum or maximum dollar amount that you should spend on your swap items. If you haven’t gotten any details on what your swap partner likes or dislikes, try checking out their Ravelry notebook and other social media sites to look for clues! 

Anatomy of the Perfect Swap Package:

Yarn (1) (or fiber, or whatever craft material they prefer) should be the star of the show! Make sure it’s something special that they can’t easily get anywhere else - for example, a locally dyed fiber or perhaps even your own handspun is sure to delight! 

Knitting needles or a crochet hook (2) which matches the yarn and/or pattern (if included).

Project bag and/or zipper pouch for notions, bonus points if you fill it with some helpful tools and notions

We suggest starting with our Vibrance Pouch Set (3) and filling it with): 

Treats (11) - Coffee, tea, sweet or savory treats are always a nice surprise! Try to add some local flavor with something that is unique to where you live - i.e. a local chocolatier, locally made snacks, etc., and of course, make sure you are fully aware of their preferences and allergies ahead of time.

Wool or fiber wash (12)  - include a small bottle or sample packets in their favorite scent so they can use it to block their finished project.

Bonus Items: If your swap package needs a little something extra, you could include something that you’ve made especially for them, or perhaps even some pandemic-related supplies such as a roll of toilet paper, a face mask, or hand sanitizer, which are always useful.

Finishing Touches

When it’s time to package it up, how will you be presenting your swap items? Using tissue paper, organza bags or gift wrap, can create a giftlike experience only adds to the delight and anticipation your swap partner will feel when they open your package! You don’t have to go overboard, but a little extra effort is sure to be appreciated.

Have you ever participated in a swap? We’d love to hear about it in the comments! 
Make sure you follow us on your favorite social media channel (linked on the right) and get our newsletter for more inspiration and ideas from Knitter’s Pride!

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